Pulp and paper mills: The original biorefineries — past performance and limitations to future opportunities, TAPPI Journal October 2023


Application: Attempting to use the paper industry as a biorefinery funding and demonstration vehicle is not an efficient option. Several political reasons play into this decision. The highest probability of paper industry involve-ment is through acquisition of a small-scale operating plan rather than greenfield, serial number 1 funding.

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Author: Peter W. Hart
Pulp and paper mills: The original biorefineries — past perf
ABSTRACT: Pulp mills have been biorefineries since the invention of the Tomlinson recovery boiler. Unfortunately, the paper industry has done a poor job explaining that concept to the general public. A number of bioproducts in everyday use have been produced by pulp mills for several decades, and new products are routinely being developed. Modern research efforts over the last couple of decades have focused on producing even more products from pulp and paper mills through capacity enhancement and the development of value-added products and liquid transportation fuels to enhance paper mill profitability. Some of these efforts, often referred to as modern biorefineries, have focused so heavily on product development that they have ignored operating and process realities that limit the transformation of pulp and paper mills from the current limited number of bioproducts produced today to economic scale production of these value-added products. In this paper, several of these limitations are addressed. In addition, there are several supply chain, marketing, product quality, and economic realities limiting the value potential for these wholesale conversions of pulp mills into multiproduct modern biorefineries. Finally, the conservative nature and capital intensity of the pulp and paper industries provide a difficult hurdle for conversion to the modern biorefinery concept. These issues are also reviewed.

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